Whether you’re craving a strong shot of caffeine in the morning or wish to make homemade espresso for a refreshing iced macchiato, espresso is a key pillar in the coffee world. And knowing how to make espresso at home will give you access to a variety of coffee drinks every morning. But how can you achieve the perfect espresso at home? And what if you want to know how to make espresso without an espresso machine?
This article will walk you through the steps for how to make espresso coffee with or without an espresso machine. From the right pressure to the water temperature to the exact coffee grind measurement, discover these top tips for making the best espresso at home.
How to make espresso without an espresso machine
Maybe you want a strong espresso shot in the morning but you don’t have an espresso machine. You can learn how to make espresso with a coffee maker, such as a French press, for an amazing shot.
First, grind your whole beans and brew the espresso as you normally would when making French press coffee. Filter it through a sieve or through a filter into a canister. Repeat this again to start brewing another coffee. But instead of using water as you normally would, use the coffee you just made.
While you won’t be able to expect any crema with the French press method, you will still have a strong, espresso coffee.
Five steps on how to make espresso with a machine
You now know how to make espresso without a machine, but the truth is that making a shot with a machine tastes even better. Follow these steps to make homemade espresso with a semi-automatic espresso maker:
Pull a ‘blank shot:’ Preheat the machine by running water through the portafilter and your cup without using any espresso.
Grind the beans: Grind your fresh whole beans right before brewing. Aim for a texture that is similar to that of granulated sugar for the perfect tasting shot.
Fill the portafilter: For a single shot of espresso, use about 0.2 ounces of ground beans (one rounded teaspoon). Use one rounded tablespoon (0.6 ounces) of ground beans for a double espresso.
Tamp the grounds: Level the grounds until they appear even to ensure consistency when the water is forced through.
Brew the espresso: Insert the portafilter into the machine with your cup underneath it. Have a timer ready to ensure that the brewing time is between 20 and 30 seconds – the ideal time for the perfect shot!
Top tips to make espresso at home
Brewing delicious homemade espresso ultimately comes down to preparation and accuracy. There are a few things you can do during the preparation to ensure barista-standard espresso:
Tamp at a 90-degree angle. Tamping can ultimately make or break the taste of your espresso. Follow these steps to tamp like a pro:
• Use your finger to level the grounds and brush off any excess coffee.
• Bend your elbow at a 90-degree angle and apply about 15 pounds of pressure.
• Once you’ve formed a puck, apply more pressure to make it even more compact (about 20 to 30 pounds of pressure should do the trick).
Helpful hack: If you’re not sure how much force is needed for tamping, stand on a scale and push the tamp down on the counter until you see your weight decrease. This will show you how hard you need to press to reach the right amount of pressure while tamping.
Measure the coffee-to-water ratio. The intense flavor of espresso is credited to a very high coffee-to-water ratio. Make sure that the weight of the liquid espresso is about one to three times the amount of dry coffee used.
For example, if you use three teaspoons of dry coffee, you will end up pulling a standard 1.26 fluid ounce double shot of espresso.
Check the consistency of your grounds. To achieve the perfect homemade espresso, the grind texture has to be just right. If your shot tastes bitter or burnt, it could be the result of over-extraction, which occurs with grounds that are too fine. And if it tastes weak or sour, you might be brewing with grounds that are too coarse.
While personal taste does help determine where you want your espresso on the ‘bitter-to-weak spectrum’, strive for fine grounds that are consistent in size and texture.
Make sure the water is hot. The temperature of the water is a key component to pulling the perfect shot. When the water reaches the espresso beans, it should be between 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit.
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